U.S. warplanes strike Syrian pro-government militia convoy

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In a statement, the army said the USA -led anti-terror coalition attacked one of the military positions near the Tanf area in the Syrian desert near the Iraqi borders on Thursday afternoon, leaving a number of "martyrs and some material losses".

The US military carried out the strike on the Shia jihadist militia as they headed towards the Al-Tanf military base in southern Syria - near the Syria-Iraq-Jordan border - used by US and US-backed rebel forces.

A USA defence official said the convoy had not responded to numerous warnings that it was "getting too close to coalition forces".

A statement by the coalition said the Syrian forces "posed a threat to USA and partner forces at Tanf".

Syria's ally Russia said on Friday that the strike had hit civilians and was unacceptable, Russian news agencies reported.

The US-led coalition strike on a pro-government convoy in Syria is unacceptable and violates the sovereignty of the country, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said.

The Associated Press also reported another military official saying it appeared the Syrian forces were ready to attack an area that included U.S advisers.

Al Tanf is part of a region known as the Badia, a vast, sparsely populated desert area that stretches to the Jordanian and Iraqi borders.

Military Times quotes officials describing the targeted militia as "pro-regime" but "not directly associated with the Syrian government".

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"Dozens of people are missing but it is not clear if they were kidnapped by Daesh", said the Observatory's chief Rami Abdurrahman, using an Arabic acronym to refer to the group.

"The Syrian Arab Army is fighting terrorism on its territory, and no party has the right to determine the course of its operations", the source said.

The strike is the second time this year the us military has targeted Syrian forces.

The strike by the anti-ISIL coalition came as the United Nations said Syria's government and rebels had agreed to set up expert committees to discuss "constitutional issues" at the latest round of UN-backed peace talks in Geneva.

The militia, who numbered in the dozens and drove a tank and a small number of construction vehicles, ignored warning shots from USA aircraft and, according to a US -led coalition statement, even "apparent Russian attempts to dissuade" their advance. There were US advisers operating at the base at the time of the airstrikes.

The US-led coalition commander first attempted to get the pro-Assad forces out of the zone by dispatching two US aircraft as "a show of force".

U.S. defence secretary Jim Mattis denied the destruction of the convoy, which included a number of tanks, marked an escalation in the American role in Syria.

The airstrikes were considered to be carried out in "self-defense" given the militias proximity to a base used by elite USA and coalition forces.

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